Shut Up & Mosh: Moshing 101

What’s up Butcher Crew! So, I have been to a handful of shows this summer, and I have realized something… Some people have no idea what they are doing in a mosh pit. There are different types of pits depending on the genre. For example: Metalcore has push pits/circle pits, and deathcore and hardcore have crowdkilling, etc.

I went to see Fit For a King, Like Moths to Flames, Currents, Constellation Atlas, and Patheos at the Drunk Horse Pub (DHP) in Fayetteville, NC. Now, this is a metalcore show, but DHP is known for its hardcore community. There were a lot of hardcore fans at the show and they were trying to crowdkill to these bands. Sometimes it works, but for the most part, it doesn’t, and people just look really weird trying to 2 step to metalcore. The lead singer for Constellation Atlas, Kevin, asked the crowd to form a wall of death. The crowd divided into two parts. When the break down hit, instead of running towards each other, people started 2 stepping and crowdkilling. A wall of death does not work like that at all. I was talking to multiple people in all the bands that played that night, and they all said the same thing: It was weird to see people trying to crowdkill. Overall, the show was really fun and I got to meet a couple of people but, I have decided to be a homie and help my fellow metalheads out and explain the different types of mosh pits and where you can expect to see each mosh pit. You’re welcome.



Now, before we get into the moshing etiquette and the different types of mosh pits, let’s talk about the history of moshing. I am a history major so you already know homegirl loves doing some research.

Moshing (also known as “slam dancing”) originated with the hardcore community in Washington D.C. in the ‘80s. The attitude of the hardcore/punk bands at the time (Minor Threat, Circle Jerks, Black Flag, and Bad Brains, etc.) had a certain attitude while playing. The crowd feeds off the band’s energy, so with their loud personality and attitude is translated into the crowd becoming rowdy.

Moshing then eased its way into the Thrash community with major help from Anthrax (they have a song called ‘Caught In A Mosh’). With thrash spreading like wildfire with the help of Metallica and Megadeth, moshing spread with it. The song Caught In A Mosh helped lift the taboo and negative thinking about moshing and turned it into a fun thing to do at a metal show.

Soon, music evolved from thrash to Seattle-based grunge community (think Nirvanna and Alice in Chains). And guess what followed this genre? Yup, you guessed it: Moshing. This is where crowd-surfing and stage diving came into play as well. You now see crowd-surfing and stage diving at almost any metal show.

After grunge; moshing, crowd-surfing, and stage diving thrived in the nu metal (think Korn) and death metal (think Dying Fetus) communities. Now with metalcore, deathcore, and a new wave of hardcore, moshing began to change. Mosh pits are still organized chaos with a lot of pushing and shoving, but now some pits have been transformed into dance floors with karate kicks, arm swings, and 2 steps.

Some have argued that moshing is dead. I disagree. I go to shows almost every weekend and people are still moshing. Maybe one’s idea of mosh isn’t as popular or isn’t done anymore, but that doesn’t mean that moshing is over as a whole.

Now that we are aware of the history of moshing, let’s get into some basic mosh pits that you will see at metal shows.

Push pit:

It’s pretty self-explanatory. You just run around and push people around in the pit. You will see these pits for metalcore and nu metal bands.

Circle pit:

This is also pretty self-explanatory. You run around in a big circle and push people who are in your way while people on the outside push you back into the pit. There are also some people who stand in the middle of the circle pit and just headbang. You will see these pits for metalcore and nu metal bands.

Wall of Death: 

This pit is literally death. I have been in quite a few wall of death’s and I seriously thought I was going to die. Basically, the singer for the band that is playing will tell the crowd to divide in half. Once the crowd splits in half, you face the other half of the crowd. When the singer tells you go, or when the breakdown hits, you run towards one another and start pushing. I usually end up getting caught in the middle of this mosh (if you didn’t get my Anthrax reference… you’ll be going down my Slot Drain). You will see these pits at metalcore, nu metal, death metal, and deathcore shows.


Honestly, anything goes with crowdkilling. Most people just move their arms and legs like a maniac and swing. Others do karate kicks, flips, and other tricks. The majority of the time, people 2 step. It is very entertaining to watch, but to me, this is the most dangerous type of pit. If you are anywhere near the pit (even around the pit, not participating), you will get hit. You will see these pits at deathcore and hardcore shows.

Crowdkilling is my least favorite type of mosh. I find it entertaining seeing people 2 step and do weird dances, and I understand that I will get hit. But when I continually get hit once the crowdkiller knows I’m there and is still trying to hit me is when I have a problem. I don’t even care if someone isn’t looking, those who decide to just swing back and continuously go to the end of the pit to hit people, I will kick your ass. You have all this room to swing and dance, there is no need to intentionally hit people who aren’t participating. I saw Varials recently and a crowdkiller wasn’t looking and punched me in the nose 5 times even when I was trying to get away or push him off. This is when crowdkillng isn’t fun. Now, I am biased because of what happened, but I do understand that hardcore music is aggressive. I will continue to jam out to hardcore shows, and I’m fine with being near the pit. Just know that if I get punched in the nose consecutive times, I’m coming for your ass.

Here is the one and only rule that you need to know about any of these types of mosh pits: IF YOU SEE SOMEONE FALL DOWN, STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING AND HELP THEM UP.

If you pay attention to your surroundings and help other people if they go down, you will have no problem in a pit.


Stay Metal,